After being exposed and undressed on live television by Jodo Kirin — and subsequently mocked online — Arataka finds himself sitting at a crossroads. Obviously, he could come clean and go back to living the boring but honest life. His mom even writes him an apology letter that he can deliver at his press conference. Or he can double-down. He can dig in his heels and be belligerent. He can confront the angry swathe of journalists and question their truths. Naturally, Arataka takes the second option. He won’t take his lumps and play the fool (even if he is one). Call him a conman all you want, but he’s also a fighter. I found it rather interesting that he got mad at Kirin and the television crew for setting him up. After all, isn’t Arataka just reaping what he has sown? Isn’t he in this predicament precisely because he keeps lying and taking credit for accomplishments that are not his? Rather than be contrite, he would rather fight back. So this made me pause and think about the man and his character. After some thought, I honestly have to agree with Mob that maybe his master isn’t such a bad guy. This arc is particularly interesting, because Arataka kinda learns his lesson, but at the same time, he kinda doesn’t. He’s an unrepentant liar, but his half-truths nevertheless make people happy. Arataka’s hokey solutions and remedies are essentially placebos. Nevertheless, his customers walk away satisfied. And even though Mob is clearly the one who does all of the heavy (spiritual) lifting, the kid wouldn’t be in this position without Arataka. So do the ends justify the means? Well, I can’t come to that conclusion for you. Even now, I’m trying to grapple with how I really feel about an unscrupulous man like Arataka.
What’s fresh and fascinating is that we don’t get that sort of cheesy epiphany where the fool realizes his wrongs and instantly becomes a changed man. A tiger can’t change its stripes, and likewise, Arataka isn’t going to stop blowing smoke up people’s asses. And thanks to his little buddy, his reputation gets restored in the end, and you could argue that he came out of this predicament in an even better position than before. With Mob’s help, he got to appear as a powerful psychic in front of possibly the entire nation. Even Jodo Kirin is proverbially shaking in his boots. So can we really say that the man has learned his lesson? Well, he has and he hasn’t. Arataka’s been lying for so long that he’s even forgotten what he’s all about. After some much needed reflection, he finally remembers how he even came to know the kid. He remembers why he stuck with this job even though he usually gets bored with everything he does. Way back when his business was just a few months old, Mob had seen an ad and came to Arataka for advice. When the man saw that the kid’s powers were legit, he became inspired. He’s always wanted to be somebody, but Mob reminded him of this youthful idealism that old age can often make us forget. This forces Arataka to realize that even though he’s been holding Mob back, the kid has managed to grow immensely (somewhat) on his own. So in light of this, Arataka admits this in front of all the cameras. His words bewilder the journalists, but the gesture allows him to mend his broken relationship with Mob. As a result, the kid later reminds Arataka that his master is not such a bad guy. What’s interesting is that the kid saw through Arataka’s lies from the start. He knew that his master didn’t have spiritual powers from the first time they met. So why call him master? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Arataka’s words of encouragement lifted Mob’s spirits. He spoke earnestly and honestly to the kid, so the latter recognized that behind all that facade, there’s a decent man. So while his master may not actually have any special psychic abilities, he’s found himself a role model in life.
So to take stock, their relationship came to a temporary halt in last week’s episode because Arataka willingly blinded himself to Mob’s personal growth. He stunted his own personal growth, and as a result, he couldn’t continue being Mob’s role model. Nevertheless, the kid never shut the door completely on their relationship. Even when they weren’t speaking to each other, Mob thinks positively of his (former) master. So when Arataka goes through his personal breakthrough in front of the cameras, Mob puts himself in the position to see and hear everything. As a result, he does what he has always done: he uses his psychic powers to bail his master out of a tight situation yet again. Unlike Arataka, Mob doesn’t need any recognition for his powers. He lives with it everyday, so he knows what his psychic abilities are all about. To put it another way, you don’t need to tell a fast runner that they’re fast. What Mob really wanted was just Arataka’s acknowledgement. Well, the acknowledgement comes later rather sooner, but it comes nevertheless. And at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves if charlatans like Arataka are really as bad as we think they are. The emphasis here is important. Obviously, there are crooks out there who prey upon the weak and highly suggestible. But Arataka is a bit of a special case. I’m a bit biased towards harsh and brutal truths, but the world isn’t like that. Some people cling to their beliefs and superstitions, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t soothe their wounds with your balm of “facts and evidence.” Their subjective feelings will always rule the day. So while I would never personally go to a man like Arataka for help in anything in life, there will always those who need their half-truths in order to sleep easy at night.